Supporting the social economy to boost jobs and growth in Languedoc-Roussillon

A project to set up a business incubator is encouraging the growth of social enterprises with the aim of bringing employment and prosperity to the region.

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A business incubator to further growth in the social economy A business incubator to further growth in the social economy

The social economy in Languedoc-Roussillon currently employs more than 14 % of the local population and is seen as crucial to its long term economic development. The region has been taking steps to expand this sector since 2005 by working with local actors and networks to build the necessary tools and support infrastructure. These interrelated projects are being united under the umbrella of the REALIS project, which brings together organisations involved in job-creating projects supporting social cohesion and human wealth in a network that provides mutual support.

Building on experience

These organisations include Alter’Incub which was set up to support emerging and innovative projects and the École de l’Entrepreneuriat that helps develop the skills of the social entrepreneurs. The Coventis network supports business development, while REPLIC promotes the replication of projects. The Pépinière ESS has also been created to support the new and emerging businesses in the social economy.

The organisations involved all have expertise and experiences to draw upon. Alter’Incub has already studied 130 business plans of which 45 are in pre-incubation and 33 at the incubation stage. So far it has helped create 14 businesses and anticipates on average 5-6 new businesses per year which could generate up to 75 jobs by summer 2013. The Scic COEPTIS, which provides management training for would-be social enterprise entrepreneurs, consists of 10 full-time employees and 45 consulting professors who run 3 diploma courses which train some 200 people each year.

Innovative support for entrepreneurs

The network's support activities are culminating in the setting up of the REALIS business incubator. This new centre, located in Parc 2000 in Celleneuve, near Montpellier, provides office and production facilities as well as advice. Working closely with the region’s business support network, the incubator aims to ensure success by partnering social enterprises for three years on average. This support is helping to safeguard existing jobs and create new ones in the sector, and to promote growth and prosperity in Languedoc-Roussillon.

“The REALIS approach and the network it has created is the first tool of its kind in France and is a model that can be replicated across Europe. It will help promote economic growth and employment in our region through the development of successful and sustainable socially oriented businesses.

- Myriam Ludwig, Head of the social economy sector, Languedoc-Roussillon Region.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project "REALIS - Réseau Actif pour l'Innovation Sociale en Languedoc-Roussillon" (Active Network for Social Innovation in Languedoc-Roussillon) is EUR 10 500 000, with the EU's European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 2 500 000. The project is funded through the priority "Developing innovation and the knowledge-based economy as factors of growth and competitiveness" of the Operational Programme “Languedoc-Roussillon" for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date

22/11/2013